For the first time this season, the No. 1 Georgia Southern Eagles got surprised.
Chattanooga's redshirt freshman quarterback Terrell Robinson entered the game without having taken a snap in his career, so there was no film on him or what the UTC offense looked like with Robinson running the show.
A GSU defense that was allowing only 57 yards per game entering the contest gave up 238 rushing yards, including 114 to Robinson.
The Mocs (2-4, 0-3 Southern Conference) were rushing for only 92 yards per game through their first five.
Still, the No. 1 Eagles (5-0, 4-0) held on for a 28-27 win.
"We missed a lot of assignments," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "We missed tackles. We missed opportunities offensively, defensively, in the kicking game and we somehow found a way to overcome it. It says a lot about this team, but we just have to play better."
The Eagles, who cruised through their first four games by an average score of 47-18, viewed the narrow victory as a learning opportunity.
"We were able to fight through some adversity. That was the main thing," said quarterback Jaybo Shaw. "We found a way to win. We'll look at the film, make corrections, put that one behind us and get ready for Furman."
"Instead of blaming the kids or blaming the officials or blaming the weather or blaming this play or that play, we find ways to self-evaluate," added Monken. "We can think about the 'what ifs' still having won the game, and we're fortunate to be able to do that."
More running QBs
Robinson was GSU's first taste of a running quarterback, but he won't be anywhere near the last.
Next on the list is Chris Forcier and the Furman Paladins (3-2, 2-1), who as a team mix a potent rushing attack (197 ypg) with the most efficient passing game in the SoCon (81 for 119, 15 touchdowns)
"They're going to balance up and make you defend both," said GSU defensive coordinator Jack Curtis. "[Forcier is] a talented player who's good enough to beat you running and good enough to beat you passing."
The GSU defensive line helped shut Chattanooga down to the tune of only 29 first-half rushing yards, but allowed 209 in the second half when Robinson added another dimension to the backfield.
"They tried to run the ball at the beginning of the game but they kind of got away from it," said GSU defensive tackle Brent Russell. "We got geared up for the pass and we had our mind set on it. That's what we want to do on the d-line — we want to rush the pass. Mainly it's on us for not adjusting to the running game, so we've really got to prepare for Furman this week."
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.